I’m beginning to see Encoded Archival Description (EAD) files everywhere, but maybe it is because I am involved with a project called the Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA).
As you may or may not know, EAD files are the “MODS files” of the archival community. These XML files provide the means to administratively describe archival collections as well as describe the things in the collections at the container, folder, or item level.
Columbia University and MARC records
Florida State University and tests/tools
Today I read an article by Plato L. Smith II from Information Technology and Libraries (volume 27, number 2, pages 26-30) called “Preparing locally encoded electronic finding aid inventories for union environments: A Publishing model for Encoded Archival Description”. [COinS] Smith describes how the Florida State University Libraries create their EAD files with Note Tab Light templates and then convert them into HTML and PDF documents using XSLT. They provide access to the results through the use of content management system — DigiTool. What I found most intriguing about this article where the links to test/tools used to enrich their EAD files, namely the RLG EAD Report Card and the Online Archive of California Best Practices Guidelines, Appendix B. While I haven’t set it up yet, the former should check EAD files for conformity (beyond validity), and the later will help create DACS-compliant EAD Formal Public Identifiers.
Catholic Research Resources Alliance portal
Both of these articles will help me implement the Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA) portal. From a recent workshop I facilitated:
The ultimate goal of the CRRA is to facilitate research in Catholic scholarship. The focus of this goal is directed towards scholars but no one is excluded from using the Alliance’s resources. To this end, participants in the Alliance are expected to make accessible rare, unique, or infrequently held materials. Alliance members include but are not limited to academic libraries, seminaries, special collections, and archives. Similarly, content might include but is not limited to books, manuscripts, letters, directories, newspapers, pictures, music, videos, etc. To date, some of the Alliance members are Boston College, Catholic University, Georgetown University, Marquette University, Seton Hall University, University of Notre Dame, and University of San Diego.
Like the Columbia University implementation, the portal is expected to allow Alliance members to submit MARC records describing individual items. The Catapano, DiPasquale, and Marquis article will help me map my MARC fields to my local index. Like the Florida Sate University implementation, the portal is expected to allow Alliance members to submit EAD files. The Smith article will help me create unique identifiers. For Alliance members who have neither MARC nor EAD files, the portal is expected to allow Alliance members submit their content via a fill-in-the-blank interface which I am adopting from the good folks at the Archives Hub.
The CRRA portal application is currently based on MyLibrary and an indexer/search engine called KinoSearch. After submitting them to the portal, EAD files and MARC records are parsed and saved to a MySQL database using the Perl-based MyLibrary API. Various reports are then written against the database, again, using the MyLibrary API. These reports are used to create on-the-fly browsable lists of formats, names, subjects, and CRRA “themes”. They are used to create sets of XML files for OAI-PMH harvesting. They are used to feed data to Kinosearch to create an index. (For example, see mylibrary2files.pl and then ead2kinosearch.pl.) Finally, the whole thing is brought together with a single Perl script for searching (via SRU) and browsing.
It is nice to see a growing interest in EAD. I think the archival community has a leg up on it library brethren regarding metadata. They are using XML more and more. Good for them!
Finally, let’s hear it for the ‘Net, free-flowing communication, and open source software. Without these things I would not have been able to accomplish nearly as much as I have regarding the portal. “Thanks guys and gals!”